A 47-year-old salesman with a police scanner in his car played a key role in quickly tracking down the suspect in a Thursday night hit-and-run that killed a 4-year-old boy.
Leroy Flach was on his way home from Stony Point Road when he heard scanner chatter about a hit-and-run accident in which a child had been hit by a car in the West Ninth Street Rockwell Place crosswalk, not far from Flach's house.
Over the radio, witness descriptions were being relayed by police and dispatchers that described the suspect's light blue Honda sedan with a large San Francisco Giants decal in the rear window.
One witness had even recognized the car and provided Garcia's address, though police did not find him or the car at home.
Flach recounted his thinking in a phone interview from his home Friday night: "If the person's leaving an accident, he's probably not going to be wanting to driving the car anymore. Where would he go?"
He first checked the Stony Point Lake Shopping Center, then decided to go to Finley Park.
"I figured there's always a lot of people there, and a lot of cars around, it would be easy for someone to blend in, a spot to get away at for someone," he said.
Garcia's Honda was in a parking area on the southeast side of the park at Stony Point Road and West College Avenue and Garcia was peeling off the tell-tale decal, Flach said.
He watched as Garcia then climbed into a light-blue Volvo sedan driven by a woman. He followed the Volvo, noting the license plate number before losing sight of the car near Santa Rosa Plaza.
Police used the license plate number to track the car to an apartment on Sonoma Avenue, near Juilliard Park, said Santa Rosa Police Sgt. Rich Celli.
Officers confronted Garcia about 7:50 p.m., and he provided a statement linking him to the crash, Celli said.
[/NEWS_00]He was arrested for suspected felony hit and run and driving without a license. Police intend to request more serious charges now that the boy has died, Celli said.
Garcia was being held without bail because of an immigration hold, jail personnel said. The woman has not been arrested, though the case remains under investigation.
Police said Flach was a hero.
"I just tried to be involved," Flach said. "I just figured that an extra set of eyes always helps. Ten or 15 minutes goes by, and he could be in Petaluma."